Diversity Woman Magazine

FALL 2013

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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Upfront > DW Hot List Top Crowdfunding Sites for Small Business C rowdfunding—raising small amounts of money from large numbers of donors—has helped thousands of artists, flmmakers, and other creatives turn their ideas into reality. Now it's becoming a fresh source of funds for small businesses, too. The 2012 JOBS Act eliminated a legal obstacle to business crowdfunding that had required investors to be "accredited" (loosely defned as having a high net worth). The Securities and Exchange Commission hasn't yet defned how the act will be implemented, but when it does—perhaps later this year or early next—anyone willing to take the risk will be able to invest. Here are fve top sites connecting small businesses with the crowds. Stars Who Mean Business Olsen Twins I f your only image of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen is as the mop-top child actresses who starred in the TV series Full House, you need to hit the reset button. In the current chapter of their lives, they're award-winning clothing designers jointly running a company, Dualstar, with more than a billion dollars in annual sales. Teir luxury clothing brand, Te Row, is also a cause: through it, the twins hope to help bring high-end fashion manufacturing back to the United States. Most of the items in their collections are produced in New York and Los Angeles, and the Olsens have spoken out frequently about the need to revive high-skill clothing manufacturing here. "I really believe in our being able to create here and utilize the skills that people have here," Ashley told News- 20 D IV ERSI TY WOMAN Fall 2013 week. "Te skill set is here. Our main issue is that some of the machinery is gone, so some knitwear is produced in Italy. But whether it's clothing or cars, I believe in manufacturing as close to home as possible." Te twins' entrepreneurial ventures started back when they were 12 and designed a line of clothes for Walmart. Tey started Te Row in 2006, when they were 19. (Tey also create a more afordable collection called Elizabeth and James, and a line of teen clothes called Olsenboye.) Teir designs have earned them respect both inside and outside the fashion industry: in 2012, the Council of Fashion Designers of America named them the best womenswear designers in the United States, and trendsetters like Michelle Obama don their clothes. Somolend (somolend.com) Matches local businesses and start-ups (typically with 15 or fewer employees) with locally-minded individual investors as well as banks. Indiegogo (indiegogo.com) A top site for creative and cause-oriented crowdfunding, it also has a business category for national and international projects, including the frst dog-friendly café in Athens. FundAnything (fundanything.com) Donald Trump is backing this site, which includes small-business ideas, and he highlights his own favorites among the offerings. Fundable (fundable.com) At this small business–only site, investors can choose to receive rewards or equity in exchange for their funding. CircleUp (circleup.com) The focus here is on young companies offering consumer products. To learn whether crowdfunding is right for you, read this from the Small Business Administration: http://tinyurl.com/n3olnbv d i v e r s i ty w oma n.com

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